The 10 Must-See Films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival 2015

Ten must-see films premiering at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival
by Scott Menzel (MovieManMenzel)

2015 will mark the third year that I, Scott Menzel, will venture to the freezing but oh so beautiful Park City to attend what I consider to be the greatest and best film festival here in the United States. That’s right ladies and gentleman, I am talking about the one and only Sundance Film Festival.

Now, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that this year’s line-up didn’t wow me as much as previous two did. Last year’s festival brought the world many of the more talked about films of 2014 including Boyhood, Whiplash, The Skeleton Twins, The One I Love, Dear White People, and Obvious Child. It also featured several great underrated gems including The Voices, Rudderless, Laggies, and Infinitely Polar Bear, just to name a few.

This year there are definitely a lot of big names coming to the festival as well as several films that have the potential of becoming huge hits but truth be told there are only about 15 or so that truly made me go “I want to see that!” I should also note that this will be my first Sundance without Brit Marling, Shailene Woodley, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Miles Teller, Richard Linklater, Steve Coogan, and Aubrey Plaza in attendance. These seven faces have always made Sundance a very memorable experience so I am sadden that they won’t be there this year.

Anyway, enough of my blabbing, lets get to the good stuff shall we?

Here is my lis 10 must-see films at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival:

10. Tangerine – Alright, I have nothing to say about this one other than the plot for Tangerine just sounds too weird not to check out. According to the Sundance guide, this film is about ” A working girl who tears through Tinseltown on Christmas Eve searching for the pimp who broke her heart.” This sounds like a really strange but fun dark comedy to me but who knows if it will work. I think the best part of Sundance is picking a few films to see that have a weird sounding plot and give em a shot. Hey, don’t judge me, I did it last year with Obvious Child and even on repeat viewings is still one of the funniest films of 2014.

9. Knock Knock – While I did find John Wick to be a bit overrated, it was nice seeing Keanu Reeves back on the big screen doing something that didn’t completely suck. Knock Knock’s plot sounds like a every males fantasy becoming a nightmare and with Reeves as the lead I would be lying if I didn’t say this one intrigues me. The film is directed by Eli Roth, who, I have never really cared for as a director but for some reason I have a feeling this is going to be a lot of fun.

8. True Story – Normally when I hear about a film starring James Franco and Jonah Hill  I don’t get excited because that usually means a new stoner comedy is coming out that majority of world finds hilarious while I just roll my eyes in disgust. However, True Story is not a stoner comedy but instead something that looks like an intelligent, well-acted, and well written thriller. The film’s story focuses on a New York Times writer who begins to investigate a murder named Christian Longo. Story also stars Felicity Jones which is never a bad thing and looks a lot like Capote but with a lot more suspense and action along the way. The film was already purchased by Fox Searchlight so that usually means something great is on its way.

7.  Mistress America – I saw While We’re Young last year at it’s premiere at TIFF and found it to be very funny but very mainstream for Noah Baumbach. The year before that I saw Frances Ha, which I enjoyed but not as much as all the hipster film lovers. My friend and film afaciando extraordinaire Jason Osiason has told me that he thinks Mistress America will be the perfect mix of the two films mentioned above and therefore will one of the biggest hits at Sundance this year. Personally, I have dug almost all of Baumbach’s work thus far and while I am still not entirely sure about how I feel about Greta Gerwig overall, I do like her enough and know she the acting ability and charm to carry a film. Oh and not only am I intrigued by the talent involved but also by the film’s storyline which sounds like it will be quirky knowing Baumbach’s previous outings.

6. Don Verdean – There are three main reasons why I want to see this one. The first is that it is directed and written by Jared Hess, the man behind Napoleon Dynamite. The second reason is the cast which includes Sam Rockwell, Amy Ryan, and Jemaine Clement. Lastly, any film that takes stab at religion is ok with me and is usually a must see. This film’s plot follows a man who goes on a biblical quest that in the end inspires him to get creative by selling faith and being a fraud.

5. Z for Zachariah – I am definitely going with the flow on this one. Needless to say, if you have read anyone else’s Sundance’s must-see or picks list, you will more than likely see this title featured on there. The main reason for that is the cast which includes only Chiwetel EjioforMargot Robbie, and Chris Pine as well as the vague yet intriguing plot description. The film is directed by Craig Zobel who also happened to direct Compliance which is a film that I absolutely loved. Z for Zachariah is definitely a case of curiosity to see what happens with all the talent involved. 

4. Sleeping with Other People – This film is written and directed by Leslye Headland who wrote 2014’s About Last Night. I found that film to be a very funny and honest look at relationships. People, on the other hand, sounds a lot more like a crowd pleaser than About Last Night. The film happens to star some of my favorite television comedy stars including Alison Brie, Adam Scott, and Natasha Lyonne and tells the story of a womanizer and cheater who become attracted to one another but can’t enter into a relationship. I am not expecting this to be this year’s oscar contender but I am hoping for this to be one of the more enjoyable and funniest films to come out at this year’s fest.

3. The D Train – Yet another comedy on my list. Truth be told, I love to laugh and most mainstream comedies don’t do the trick anymore because they are loaded with infantile humor and sex gags. The D Train’s premise sounds simple yet intriguing because it seems like a film where a simple story can cause a lot of hijinks to ensue. The cast is solid (James MarsdenKathryn Hahn, and Jack Blackand the film itself is directed and written by the two dudes who wrote Yes Man. Again, not expecting a groundbreaking piece of cinematic history here but rather just 90 or so minutes of pure enjoyment.

2. Digging for Fire – It’s all about the cast for me with this one. I have watched several of Joe Swanberg’s films and while I enjoy them to a degree they are never fully stick with me by the time the year comes to a close. Well I am really hoping that this film is the Swanberg films to remember simply because of all the talent involved. The film stars Anna KendrickOrlando BloomBrie LarsonJake JohnsonJenny Slate, and Sam Rockwell. It is also a drama unlike Swanberg’s other films and is co-written by star Jake Johnson.

1. The End of The TourJames Ponsoldt directed Smashed and Spectacular Now which are two films that I love. I should also mention that they both premiered at Sundance. What I am basically saying is that I am hoping for this film to be the trifecta. With a solid cast that includes Jesse Eisenberg and a story that focuses on a true life journalist experience, I am sold for these three reasons alone. Truth be told, I am expecting another great story here with some damn fine acting. Ponsoldt has been amazing so far in his career and I am hoping that this film makes him a household name.

Well, there you have it folks. Those are my top 10 picks for films that I really want to see at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Sure, there are still some other films that didn’t make the list but still interest me so I guess I should go ahead and give them a shout out. My honorable mentions include The Bronze, People Places Things, The Overnight, Results, I Smile Back, and A Walk in the Woods. 

How about you? What films are you most excited about that are premiering at the festival? Do you think the 2015 line-up is just as good as the previous few years? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Stay tuned to We Live Film for all your Sundance Film Festival news, reviews, and interviews as I will be at the festival from Thursday, January 22, 2015 until Friday, January 30, 2015 busting my hump to provide some of the best film festival coverage this site can offer.

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